Most of the regional and national press has recognised the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) as the industry regulator following the abolition of the old Press Complaints Commission.
However IPSO has made clear it has no intention of applying for recognition as a press regulator under the government’s Royal Charter, on the grounds that this would amount to state regulation of the press.
Now a rival regulator, Impress, has confirmed that it is seeking recognition under the Charter after winning the backing of a number of small publishing groups.
Its 13 members include a Scottish-based crowd-funded investigative website, The Ferret, hyperlocal online publishers such as the Caerphilly Observer, The Lincolnite, Your Harlow and Staffordshire-based A Little Bit of Stone,
The Press Recognition Panel confirmed that it had received the Impress application.
It said in an announcement on its website: “In order to be an approved regulator, Impress must satisfy the PRP that it meets all 29 of the recognition criteria in the Royal Charter.”
It would carry out an initial check of Impress’s application to ensure that it was complete, and, if satisfied, would then publish the application on its and announce a call for information, which would last for 20 working days.
“We will only consider facts and evidence related to the Charter criteria, not opinions or hearsay,” the Panel said, adding: “It is not currently possible to say how long the application process will take. Our priority is to ensure that the assessment is robust, transparent and thorough, and we will provide regular updates throughout the process.”
Impress chairman Walter Merricks said the application marked “a new era for independent press regulation”.
He went on: “We are proud to say that we have ten publishers from all over the UK who have signed up with us on this important day.
“At least 30 other publishers have said they are interested in joining us, some of which we are still in discussions with and others who would prefer to join once we have been recognised.
“Whilst we will regulate these titles with fairness and vigour we will also support them in their desire to publish great journalism. This is what makes Impress distinctive.”
The Impress website quotes Rachel Howells from the Port Talbot Magnet, which describes itself as a a not-for-profit community co-operative, as saying: “Independent regulation means we can continue carrying out robust journalism for the public good, and also enables us to be taken seriously by readers and the establishment.
“It is a demonstration of our ethical commitment to reporting sensitively and well.”
The full list of members given by Impress was:
A Little Bit of Stone (Staffordshire)
Caerphilly Observer (Wales)
New Internationalist (Oxford)
On The Wight (Isle of Wight)
Port Talbot Magnet (Wales)
Positive News (London)
Southport Reporter (Merseyside)
The Ferret (Scotland)
The Lincolnite (Lincolnshire)
View Digital (Northern Ireland)
Your Harlow (Essex)